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Player Comps: Thaddeus Young

Aside from the Summer League (in which the Sixers/Nets got destroyed by the Jazz yesterday), these days are short on legitimate Sixers storylines. So, to give us something to talk about while Andy and Andre figure out that Andre isn't worth $30M I figured we'd use one of Basketball-Reference.com's cool tools. After the jump, we'll see what players had comparable stats to Thad Young through this point of his career.

I figured the best place to start would be the comps I've heard people mention in the past. DraftExpress listed Antawn Jamison as his best-case, Donyell Marshall as the worst. During his time in the league I've heard Lamar Odom, Rudy Gay and Tayshaun Prince. Let's start with these guys. Here's a look at all of their numbers through their second full season. (click the image to enlarge)

The first half of the stats above are per 36 minutes, not per game. As you can see, Thad holds his own in most of the run-of-the-mill categories. His field goal percentage is just amazing compared to this group, his rebounding numbers aren't as bad as you'd expect, when compared to this group. He also topped the group in steals per 36 as well as fewest turnovers per 36.

When we get to the advanced stats portion of the chart, Thad really starts to emerge. He led all of these players in 7 of 17 categories. Even though he played only the third-most minutes of the six, he had the highest win share total. Tayshaun Prince was the only player to have a higher win share/48 minute ranking. Odom played over 1500 more minutes than Thad and accumulated fewer win shares. Rudy Gay played 1,000 more minutes and had 4.1 fewer win shares. The final column is the one you should really pay close attention to. Out of this group, Thad was the only player who couldn't legally buy a beer by the end of his second season.

These are the five comps I've heard the most, and to be honest, I think Thad's ahead of where every one of them was after their second season.

Of this group of comps, only Jamison has been an All Star (twice). Prince made first-team All Defense, Odom and Prince have both won rings. These are some pretty successful players, but are they Thad's ceiling? I'm not sure. I don't see Thad fitting into the Odom or Prince mold. He's too gifted offensively to be more of a defense-first, offense-afterthought kind of guy. I also see him as being more versatile than Jamison, Gay and Marshall.

With this in mind, I thought we'd run a reverse search to find more comps for Thad. Let's take a look at what makes Thad unique, and see which players have achieved the same level of success in their first two seasons in the NBA.

Here are the stats and levels I used for these comps, searching the first two seasons of all forwards in the NBA since 1980 (not all stats are available for the older players):

TS% over 55%
Steals per 36 over 1.4
Win Shares over 9.0
FG attempts per 36 under 14.0

Basically, I wanted to capture players who were efficient and effective without dominating the ball. I thought about including low turnovers, but when I included turnovers under 2.0/36 minutes there were no comps. Only Thad had achieved all of those benchmarks. Here's the list of comps:

  • Charles Barkley
  • James Worthy
  • Derrick McKey
  • Andrei Kirilenko
  • Ed Pinkney
  • Paul Millsap
  • Nene Hilario
  • Jamario Moon
Again, please keep in mind that each of these guys was at least a year or two older than Thad over the first two seasons of their careers. This list holds one anomaly in the most-versatile power forward in the past two decades, Charles Barkley. It shows why Kirilenko and Nene both got big contracts (which they've yet to live up to, for different reasons), and why Paul Millsap is in line to sign his own. Jamario Moon is an interesting case, he was 27 in his rookie season, but still put up surprisingly good numbers.

Pinckney and McKey are two guys who never showed much improvment on their sophomore seasons, but went on to have long careers nonetheless.

The most interesting name here, for me, is James Worthy. Worthy was an elite finisher, a slashing forward in the Showtime Lakers era. Magic Johnson's wingman. He was a tweener, never really rebounded well enough to be a four, wasn't quite a three either. He was always, always, an efficient scorer, though. Worthy was named one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA, so I'm obviously not comparing Thad to him now. But maybe what I'm saying is that Worthy could be Thad's ceiling, or at the very least, his goal.

Comps work both ways, so let's take a look at players with similar weaknesses in their games through their first two seasons as well.

Here's a very, very scary comp for you. I did a search for forwards who have played more than 4,000 minutes and averaged less than 6.0 rebounds per 36 minutes and averaged less than 1.5 assists per 36 minutes. Since 1980 only 2 players have achieved these levels. Thaddeus Young and Al Thornton. Typically, power forwards will average more than 6 rebounds per 36 and small forwards will average more than 1.3 assists per 36. Thad and Thornton are stuck in between somewhere.

Personally, I think once Thad settles in at the three (if he's ever allowed to), and settles into the Princeton Offense, we'll see his assist numbers climb, and hopefully he'll at least maintain his rebounding numbers. If he's going to reach that Worthy goal, he's going to have to contribute more in other areas, hopefully he'll be able to do that while still keeping his impressive peripherals, well, impressive.

Who would you compare Thad to? Use the comments to discuss and if you'd like to use stats to back up your argument, I highly recommend linking to your results from B-R.com.
by Brian on Jul 8 2009
Tags: Basketball | Offseason | Sixers | Thaddeus Young |